Bacterial Stationary-Phase Evolution

Višnja Bačun-Družina*, Ana Butorac, Jasna Mrvčić, Tibela Landeka Dragičević and Vesna Stehlik-Tomas

Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb, P.O. Box 625, HR-10001 Zagreb, Croatia

Article history:

Received October 29, 2010
Accepted February 2, 2011

Key words:

evolution, Escherichia coli, prolonged stationary phase, growth advantage in stationary phase


Metagenomics and advances in molecular biology methods have enhanced knowledge of microbial evolution, metabolism, functions, their interactions with other organisms and their environment. The ability to persist and adapt to changes in their environment is a common lifestyle of 1 % of the known culturable bacteria. Studies in the variety of species have identified an incredible diversity of bacterial lifespan. The holy grail of molecular biology is to understand the integrated genetic and metabolic patterns of prokaryotic organisms like the enteric bacterium Escherichia coli. The usual description of E. coli life cycle comprises four phases: lag, logarithmic, stationary, and death phase, omitting their persistence and evolution during prolonged stationary phase. During prolonged stationary/starvation period, in batch bacterial culture, selected mutants with increased fitness express growth advantage in stationary phase (GASP), which enables them to grow and displace the parent cells as the majority population. The analyses of growth competition of Gram-negative and/or Gram-positive mixed bacterial cultures showed that GASP phenomenon can result in four GASP phenotypes: strong, moderate, weak or abortive. Bacterial stress responses to starvation include functions that can increase genetic variability and produce transient mutator state, which is important for adaptive evolution.


*Corresponding author: 
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